Dunne: political centre necessary
DREDGING WON’T WORK
Jason Ryder (Letters, July 5) has been suggesting dredging to cure the silt problem in Porirua Harbour. At least he has now realised the silt comes from the hundreds of creeks that pour straight into both arms of our harbour. Grace Taylor, in the next letter, had the answer (for why the silt was there). It’s erosion - the soil erodes into every stream every time there’s heavy rain.
Rushing down steep hillsides, the soil gets swept bit by bit all the way downstream till it reaches the harbour. This starts right up the top of every hill around us, because, as she says, the hills and forests "should have been left as bush to catch the sediment". Right!
It’s far beyond what any dredge could do. The forests were milled more than 100 years ago. Most of our hilltop land has no bush left, it’s all either pasture or houses, roads and lots of concrete. There is even a big plan by the councils to try to rid the harbour of toxins, but nothing to reduce erosion.
On top of that, for the next five years there’s a four-lane highway being constructed up behind Cannons Creek. The huge earthworks have started and the biggest bridge in Transmission Gully is going in about 60 metres over the gorge.
The bulldozers are gouging the steep, already fragile land from Linden behind Ranui to Cannons Creek and Duck Creek to make this road. Expect lots more sediment in both arms of our harbour, folks.
MORE HOMES GOOD, BUT AT WHAT COST?
Fantastic news for Porirua - 500 new homes, which will probably be unaffordable for many locals, and an interesting partnership with Ngati Toa and Carrus, with the council probably benefiting too.
But from reading the front page of the Kapi-Mana News last week and doing my own bit of research, there is lots to be lost with this venture.
There are many organisations up there, which provide support to the vulnerable and disenfranchised, but will be moved on with no options for relocating.
This oasis, full of fantastic flora and fauna, will also suffer, with the same treatment as the land that is now the Aotea block – Bulldozers rolling in, trees cut down and the land a bare blot on the landscape that is characterless and devoid of natural taonga.
So a question to Ngati Toa: As kaitiaki of this land, are you acting in the best interest of the people and environment or is it really all about the dollar?
He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata! - What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.
Has somebody at Porirua City Council got it in for Aotea?
First we had the ridiculous blocking of The Fjord, which was recently reversed to what it should have been, at additional expense, and now we have a cycleway that nobody wants.
Well done to Porirua City Council on a more meaningful reduction on the pre-announced rates than has been the case in the past.
However I amwondering if the council plans to consult Porirua citizens on the plans for the new Children’s Wet Play area to be developed at Aotea Lagoon along with a new sound shell.
If the wet play area is to be part of the current children’s play park, I amsure they will not object.
However what chance is there of it being the return of the dreaded board wake park, still on the council website, while there are only passing references to the wet play area and no plans.
Around the world, millions of voters are feeling angry and left behind – thanks to changes in the workplace and the impact of new technology, immigration and changing moral attitudes.
It is easy to see why people might conclude that this is a bad time to be Peter Dunne, and the leader of a centrist party such as United Future. Does he feel that way? True, Dunne replies, this is a crunch time for liberal politicians and parties.
The likes of Brexit suggest to him that the style of government pursued in the past 30 years has essentially failed.
‘‘Yet given the nastiness that’s starting to appear around immigration and around minorities, there is also a place for re-asserting the temporarily unpopular values, about principle and integrity.’’
Really? But isn’t even former British PMTony Blair saying that the political centre has lost its power to persuade?
‘‘I think that’s true. That’s part of the challenge. The political centre - which has tended to be the moderator and the balancer - is temporarily perceived as being the problem.
‘‘We’re in an environment where there is an ‘up you’ mentality [to government] and people want a simple solution – in or out.’’
Real life solutions, he adds, aren’t so simple.
For now, Dunne agrees that United Future is located somewhere between the right wing extremists, who blame everything on the immigrants, and the left wing extremists, who blame everything on the bankers. Both extremes are hostile to globalisation.
In Dunne’s view, his natural constituency isn’t the aggrieved, but the people who oppose the polarising attitudes and actions of the aggrieved. Fine. But which group is bigger?
‘‘I don’t know the answer,’’ Dunne replies.
‘‘You can say the aggrieved are in the ascendancy at the moment, so therefore all is doom and gloom. But because of the polarisation this creates, other voices now need to re-assert themselves.’’
Maybe. Yet in this country, New Zealand First is seen as having a virtual lock on the protest vote. So what can Dunne offer to those voters that Winston Peters can’t?
‘‘I don’t think I can necessarily offer much to those voters, because we start from different perspectives.
‘‘The group of people I’m offering substance to are the group who feel that we need to pull back from the abyss at the
‘‘If we give in to the aggrieved we'll have a pretty nasty society.’’
moment, and that this ‘to hell in a handcart’ mentality has got to be stopped.’’
Ultimately, he’s not engaging with Peters’ supporters at all.
‘‘That group is essentially saying that everything that has happened in the past 30 years has left me behind.’’
Brexit in Britain and the rise of Donald Trump strike him as part of the same process. ’’Yet if we give in to the aggrieved we’ll have a pretty nasty society in terms of its attitudes to various minorities,’’ he says.
‘‘If you give in to the aggrieved you won’t make any form of progress, and we will become a very narrow, very insular kind of place. ‘‘
Since Brexit, he’s heard, the centrist British LiberalDemocrats have signed up 15,000 new members - cause for optimism.
The political centre still strikes Dunne as necessary, now and in the longer term.